UPDATED: Housing returns to pre-pandemic move-in schedule, hundreds still on waitlist

Carter Mudgett, Editor in Chief

[Updated on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to include the University of North Florida and Housing’s response to the claim that the university’s housing situation may have worsened due to mismanagement.]

Five days before Fall courses begin, most University of North Florida (UNF) students will be allowed to start moving into campus housing on Aug. 17, while close to 360 others wait for an open spot. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Housing and Residence Life adjusted the move-in schedule so that just 50 students were allowed to move onto campus each day per scheduled time slot. Students were spread across five days—Monday to Friday— spacing out how many people were on campus at once. 

This year, students must make an appointment ahead of time so “everyone does not show up all in the same moment,” UNF Housing Director Bob Boyle wrote in an email to Spinnaker.

The Villages dorms at UNF
The Villages dorms at UNF. (Blake Middleton/Spinnaker)

With move-in set to begin on Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Fall courses beginning the following Monday, some students are left with as little as two days to move into their on-campus dorm, a return to the move-in schedule in place before COVID-19. 

As of the time of publishing, there are 353 students on the waitlist, which is down from approximately 400 students in June, according to Director Boyle. The number of students attending UNF vastly outweighs the number of rooms available, and many students didn’t make the cut to guarantee a spot when sign-up opened in March. 

These students were put onto a waitlist and given two options: find housing elsewhere or wait until a spot opens. 

Cancellation activity from students with an assigned bed spaces continues to be extremely low.”

— Housing wrote in a July 25 email to students on the waitlist

The Housing waitlist is not for space in any specific housing area. Rather, if space becomes available in any housing area, Housing will refer to the list to determine the order in which students may be assigned a place to live, according to an email sent to all waitlisted students and obtained by Spinnaker. 

Students who decide to look for housing outside of UNF face financial issues created by a difficult housing market and the fact that financial aid does not provide assistance for off-campus housing.

“I was just talking to somebody, one of my friends who has been renting a house for a long time […] and their rent is higher than our mortgage,” the Rev. Sarah Locke said. “And we have the same size house.”

Rev. Locke, who works as a pastor for the Jacksonville Campus Ministry, took to Twitter last week to help raise funds for a student in need of housing at UNF. She claimed that the housing situation at UNF has worsened and that the “waitlist has exploded” because of it. 

“I don’t know if it’s mismanagement on the university level, but something happened in the past year that either more students are requiring housing because they know that they can’t afford it off campus, or they enrolled too many students,” Rev. Locke said. “I don’t know what happened […] but it seems like this year in particular has been really challenging for students trying to find housing.”

The Jacksonville Campus Ministry has looked into getting a flat or some other housing place to provide some off-campus housing to campus ministry students “for a number of years,” according to Rev. Locke, but those plans were put on hold because of the housing market. 

Spinnaker requested a comment from UNF who gave the following response on behalf of the university and UNF Housing and Residence Life:

“The increased demand for on-campus housing is a national issue, not just occurring at UNF.  Contributing to the increase in demand for UNF bed space is the off-campus housing market. Off-campus rental rates are increasing and that is pushing students and families to consider other options, including living on campus where rental rates are all inclusive and, often times, the contract agreement is for a shorter term.

A student housing market analysis completed for UNF by Brailsford & Dunlavey in March 2022 said the following with regard to the off-campus housing market:

  • Off-campus rental rates have increased substantially in the last three years with a 48% increase in market-rate rental rates and 56% increase in student-purpose rental rates.
  • Off-campus market rental rates are projected to continue to increase in the coming years.”

Fall 2022 Move-In

This year’s move-in process will consist of three phases: the Living Learning Community (LLC) move-in, first-year move-in and upper-class move-in. According to information provided by Housing, the following dates are when each move-in will begin:

  • LLCs will begin their move-in on Wednesday, Aug. 17
  • First-year students will begin their move-in on Friday, Aug. 19
  • Upper-class students will begin their move-in on Saturday, Aug. 20

Each date is only the earliest time Housing will allow the specified group to move in. For example, if an upper-class student can’t arrive on Aug. 20, they can move in on Aug. 21 or later.  

Additional Fall 2022 move-in details and an appointment sign-up link will be sent to students’ UNF email accounts, but it is currently unclear when that will happen. Visit the Housing and Residence Life website here.

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